Tanzania-based Bakhresa Group has appointed Verde Hotels from South Africa to develop and manage the total overhaul and upgrading of the old Mtoni Marine Hotel in Zanzibar
The brand new five-star property will be known as Hotel Verde, Zanzibar’s greenest hotel.
Bakhresa Group chairman Said Salim Awadh Bakhresa said,“We are serious about being the leaders of the Green Economy sector and therefore we approached the developers of Africa’s Greenest Hotel, Verde Hotels to ensure that Hotel Verde Zanzibar will be the greenest hotel in East Africa.”
Bahkresa has commissioned the Verde Hotels Group to manage the development and operate the hotel as a certified sustainable establishment that offers a carbon neutral hotel experience. Verde Hotels will work with Estim Construction while pursuing independent certification, utilising the Green Star rating tool from the Green Building Council of South Africa (GBCSA).
Sustainability strategies that will be implemented in the redevelopment phase include passive and active designs that optimise resource efficiency. These include – renewable energy generation; regenerative drive elevators, a grey water recycling system, responsible procurement, waste minimisation and management and indoor environmental quality optimisation.
Verde Hotels intends to integrate sustainability into every facet of their involvement in the construction, as well as throughout the hotel’s daily operation.
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Cape Town – Conservation has become a prominent and important factor in global tourism, and the move to responsible and sustainable practices is long overdue.
But while legislation and planned shifts are admirable, the move to more sustainable tourism practices globally has been slow. This, mainly because it’s difficult to change an already-operational hotel or tourism establishment from the top down.
This is where South Africa and the whole African continent has an ironic advantage on sustainable tourism – tourism growth is behind that of first world countries with leading economies.
In Africa, for example, the hotel industry grew nearly 30% over the past year and is expected to grow exponentially in the coming years. With the high pressure and great rewards that come with going green, this means that new developments will be able to lay foundations for green hotels from the ground up, instead of having to adopt existing infrastructure to slot in with green practices.
It’s a concept that’s already gaining international recognition.
Hotel Verde in Cape Town serves as a prime example. This hotel opened in 2013 and was built on green-only principles. Within one year of existence, the hotel was already named a World leading establishment when became the very first hotel in the world to be awarded double platinum for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) from the United States Green Building Council (USGBC).
But more and more African and South African establishments are being recognised for their sustainable achievement.
So much so that an incredible one-third of tourism organisations – 28 out of 75 – that have been longlisted for the 2016 World Responsible Tourism Awards can be found on the African continent. Of these, 11 establishments are South African.
The longlist was announced on #AfricaDay2016.
Review from Vania Reyneke, Alive2Green
I was extended an invitation to spend a weekend at Hotel Verde, known as the greenest hotel in Africa for quite some time, but who wants to spend a weekend at or close to Cape Town International Airport if you are not flying, right?
Last weekend an opportunity came about where I could eventually take them up on the invite, packed my case, and grabbed a friend to join me.
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As we got out of the taxi at the door, we felt the tranquillity and peace and commented on how quiet it was, especially considering we were a stone’s throw away from the airport.
Check-in went smoothly and we took the lift up to the first floor. Instead of staring at one’s own reflection in a mirror, you are met by Verino, the hotel’s environmentally friendly rhino and mascot who makes one aware of one’s contribution to all green initiatives starting with the lift which uses regenerative braking on its “light” travel cycles saving 30% of the energy it would normally use.
The rooms are spacious with one’s shower, a wet room forming part of the bedroom. Without continuously being monitored or worrying about being a responsible tourist, it is all done automatically, however one is reminded just how responsible one is being as a traveller. All lights are energy efficient LEDs. Taps and sanitary fittings are “low flow” and aerated to minimise water usage. The dual flush toilet is supplied with biologically recycled grey water from showers and baths. All bedrooms are kept at a comfortable, energy efficient temperature. Our room was at such a comfortable temperature there was no need for us to use the airconditioner. Actually, now that I think of it, I was comfortable throughout the hotel at all times. The advanced system achieves extraordinary efficiency using a geothermal loop field coupled to ground source heat pumps for central heating/cooling and domestic water heating.
Because we used our towels more than once, we were awarded with a Verdino, an in-house coin to a certain value that one can credit towards one’s account, buy a snack or beverage from the deli, save and collect to use next time or cash in against your invoice.
Throughout the weekend, I was continuously amazed at the peace and quiet. Windows are double glazed and sound proof. Where one looks out, from all angles the yellow daisies were in full bloom, planted on all levels around the hotel. I have always found daisies to be uplifting and positive.
I am the worst critic for any hotel, as I am myself an international trained hotelier and find that most South African Hotels fall short on the breakfast buffet.
When my eyes fell on the platter of salmon roses and lemon, I knew I would not fault this hotel and I could not. What a pleasure to have your butter served in a dish at a temperature that makes it easy to spread and not struggle with little plastic tubs and lids one can never get to peal off easily. Preserves and jams were served in glass jars and I smiled when I lifted the glass sugar pourers that took me back to the days of jorr. Again, no paper to tear, the sugar poured out in perfect measurement, just as one would remember from the ‘50’s diners.
There was bergamot water which assists one with a hangover, double apple juice, orange juice and real juice I’ll add. Fruit displays, yogurts, cold meats, cheese platters and on the hot side, egg cooked to your choice, lamb and pork sausages, lightly spiced tomatoes, mushrooms, beans and more.. a lot more.. a cheese platter with every cheese you could imagine and nuts and seeds to your choice.
Not only was the food excellent, the décor, the tranquility and friendly staff make the hotel homely and comfortable, also giving it a homely feel. All facilities are easy to access, the business centre, bar and lounge all open plan.
There is a music corner in the lounge with a piano and other musical instruments for the use of anyone who may want to play a tune.
The eco pool is right next to the wetlands area where at night the frogs do a song and dance. Walking along the eco-trail you can’t help but get the feeling that here, nature is in balance, making a happy medium between eco friendly and stress of travelling.
By Sunday only did I start relaxing and decided to extend my stay by one more day. I just had to go to sleep to the sound of the frogs and wake up to the merry chirping of the birds one more day.
Hotel Verde, congratulations! If you can do it, so can the rest of the world!
Thank you for a wonderful experience and 100% for taking the extra mile on going green!
I can honestly recommend a stay at Hotel Verde for any occasion or event or even just a one night sleep-over
Cape Town – With global warming on everyone’s mind, thanks to the Paris climate change summit, it seemed a good time to visit Cape Town’s Hotel Verde.
The venue markets itself as Africa’s greenest hotel and the first hotel in Africa to offer carbon-neutral accommodation and conferencing.
Is it just me or does anyone else get annoyed with green jargon? What exactly is carbon neutral accommodation?
Deciphered, this means that guests leave an invisible carbon footprint. A carbon footprint is an estimate of the greenhouse gas emissions caused by an organisation, event, product or individual. Whereas wasteful energy and water practices create a big, dirty carbon footprint, energy and water-efficiency minimises the carbon footprint. Currently a guest’s one-night stay in an average room at Hotel Verde generates the equivalent of about 54kg of carbon. Hotel Verde offsets this carbon usage by donating carbon credit purchases to an environmental project in Zimbabwe.
There has been huge interest in the venue since it rolled out the green carpet and the hotel was fully booked on the evening of our visit. A news clippings agency estimates the value of the media exposure that the hotel has generated at R25-million, which nicely balances the green budget of R22m.
Hotel Verde focuses on efficient energy use, rather than using renewable energy. In an efficient system, waste products become resources. A slogan on the wall reads “Come shower so that we can flush the toilet”, referring to the fact that used bath and shower water is channelled to the grey water plant, where it is filtered, sterilised and used to flush toilets.
Edged with gleaming silver pipes and decorated with funky murals, the underground parking is surely Cape Town’s most inviting car park. Our guide informs us that instead of concrete pillars that are usually used to hold buildings aloft, the hotel used 46 000 Cobiax void formers. “You must have had a seriously qualified structural engineer” remarks one man in response to the intricate explanation about Cobiax void formers. Basically, because Hotel Verde uses less concrete it is 34 percent lighter than a conventional building.
Above the car park, green roofs and living walls are incorporated into the hotel. I love the idea of picking my spinach from the wall. Who said that vegetables have to be grown in the ground? One wall is a dedicated vertical aquaponics garden where small edible plants, like fennel and parsley, are grown, picked and used in the restaurant.
Everything at Hotel Verde is incredibly controlled – except for the guests. The hotel sends only 13 percent of all its waste to the landfill and most of that waste is created by guests. Other than sifting through their luggage, which visitors don’t really appreciate, there is no way of ensuring that clients don’t import heavily packaged goods or chemical-laden toiletries. The hotel provides environmentally friendly products in rooms and hopes for the best.
Hotel Verde’s gym brings attention to how much effort it takes to generate energy. The exercise bike shows that despite the most frantic pedalling, users only manage to produce enough energy to boil water for a cup of coffee.
This is a variation of the demonstration by Olympic track cyclist, Robert Forstemann. Even with his 74cm thick legs, generating enough energy to power a 700w toaster to create golden-brown toast left Forstemann lying on his back panting. All the talk of Cobiax void formers and complicated cooling systems makes me hungry and I’m keen to tuck into the earth hour buffet. Adapted from the global annual Earth hour, this regular Wednesday night buffet style braai allows guests to dine by candle and solar lighting.
Thankfully, green dining is delicious. Organic food sourced within a 360km radius ensures that the salads are fresh and crunchy. The best thing about the buffet is the conversation it inspires about how to save the world, or at least set up an aquaponics system. My companions are visionaries, people who want to change the world, one bunch of spinach at a time. They include Sheryl Ozinsky who runs the Oranjezicht City Farm at Granger Bay, and Fiona McPherson, who is spearheading the aquaponics movement in SA.
Hotel Verde is sandwiched between carbon guzzling capitalism to the left and poverty to the right. I can’t help but think as I nibble on my organic celery stick that any carbon savings guests might make during their stay are obliterated the moment they step into the airplane. One 8 000km round-trip flight from Europe creates a warming effect equivalent to two or three tons of carbon dioxide per person.
Then there is the awkward fact that township residents have a much more negligible carbon footprint than all the privileged people scuttling about the globe.
Without meaning to burst Hotel Verde’s carbon neutral bubble, I feel compelled to point out that the easiest way for guests to lessen their carbon footprint is to simply stay at home. Air travel is the biggest carbon sin. As the poet Gary Snyder said: “The most radical thing you can do is stay home.” Elaborating on this theme, historian and activist Rebecca Solnit writes: “The word radical comes from the Latin word for root. Perhaps the most radical thing you can do in our time is to start turning over the soil, loosening it up for the crops to settle in and then stay home to tend them.”
It has become quite common to hear big corporations talking about their environmental and sustainability responsibilities. Various bodies seeking to validate and give awards or certification for these noble activities have also come into existence. And so, there’s now a race to become the greenest business operation around.
The Green Building Council of South Africa (GBCSA), is a member-driven non-profit entity formed in 2007. It certifies buildings according to a number of green building rating tools. GBCSA, with a membership of more than 1000, is in turn a member of the World Green Building Council. The council rates buildings according to nine separate environmental impact categories which include: management, indoor environmental quality, energy, transport, water, materials, land use and ecology, emissions and innovation. GBCSA awards certification for 4-Star, 5-Star and 6-Star, Green Star SA ratings. Since the council was started, it has certified more than 100 buildings across South Africa.
A number of hotels have also joined the green revolution by embarking on sustainable operations. It is now, not surprising to walk into a hotel where you have to separate your trash; paper in one bin, bottles in another and so on. A number of hotels have also taken to cutting their power bills by installing energy saving lighting systems and appliances. Whilst many hotels and other accommodation facilities are always striving to earn as many stars as possible, there’s a new recognition they’re also now vying for – a green building or green operation rating. Sustainability has become a buzzword among hoteliers.
Just a stone’s throw from Cape Town International Airport is the 4-Star Hotel Verde which has earned itself the title of the greenest hotel in Africa. In June 2015 the hotel became the Green Star SA’s first 6-Star rated hotel.
Hotel Verde has taken going green to a whole new level in the hotel industry. The design, construction and operating practices have made the hotel an award winning one literally from underground to the rooftop. These innovations helped Hotel Verde to become one of six hotels to receive a LEED Platinum award for a new construction. LEED or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, is an internationally recognised rating tool for green buildings from the United States Green Building Council. Since the start of operations, the hotel has scooped numerous accolades including another Platinum award from LEED for existing building operations & maintenance in July 2015. This made the Hotel Verde the first hotel to achieve a double LEED Platinum award globally.
Some of the features that have placed Hotel Verde a cut above the rest include an air conditioning system in the form of a geothermal installation. This provides the hotel with an efficient heating and cooling system. The geothermal installation works as a heat pump that doesn’t use cooling gases found in conventional air conditioning systems. The heat pump, which helps the hotel save about 25% on their power bill, comprises of one hundred 70m deep boreholes. The boreholes circulate water underground making use of the constant 19.4°C underground temperature to shed off heat picked up from rooms that need cooling. The water also picks up heat to warm up rooms that need warming.
Hotel Verde has set up other facilities to reduce its energy bill. Photovoltaic solar panels on its roof and northern façade are producing just over 700 000kWH of electricity per year. The hotel also has three vertical wind turbines that greet you as you arrive at their main entrance. These turbines have a combined capacity to produce 9kW of electricity.
Not only is Hotel Verde producing some of the electricity it needs, the hotel has also installed efficient equipment to minimise their electricity usage. The equipment includes intelligent lighting in all rooms and outside, regenerative drive elevators, energy star rated office equipment and washing machines, and water saving taps and shower heads. Double glazed windows in all rooms, not only help keep out the noise from planes at the nearby airport, but also help with managing the temperature in the rooms, reducing heating or cooling needs.
Another area the hotel has proven its seriousness in going green is water. Hotel Verde has a rainwater harvesting setup with a 40 000 litre underground tank used to store the water. The hotel has an onsite grey water recycling system, which recycles the grey water from showers and bathtubs. The resulting clear water is then used for irrigation and to flush toilets, saving approximately 1.5 million litres of municipal water per annum.
Hotel Verde’s commitment to sustainability is reflected in their day to day operations. Supplies are procured from producers who are within a certain radius of the hotel. A reward system encourages guests to reuse their towels. Their outdoor swimming pool is a natural pond which uses natural filtration rather than chemicals. Their state of the art gym has treadmills and spinning bikes that generate electricity when they are being used. And on top of that, Hotel Verde has teamed up with some international organisations to ensure that their guests’ stays are carbon neutral. This is achieved by offsetting carbon emissions through responsible carbon capturing and reduction projects.
Whilst Hotel Verde has scored a first not only in South Africa, but across the continent, there are other hospitality industry operators that are also taking sustainability seriously. The GBCSA is reporting a year on year increase in its membership and the buildings it is certifying. And this is good news for our Planet.
Three deserving Professionals and South Africa’s top rated green building picked up the coveted established Green Star SA Leadership Awards at the recent annual Green Building Convention held in Cape Town.
Sponsored by Old Mutual Property, the awards comprised of four categories. For buildings, there are the Highest Rated Building and Best Quality Submission awards, while individual professionals are recognised as either a Rising Green Star or an Established Green Star.
Brian Wilkinson, CEO of the Green Building Council South Africa (GBCSA), comments: “Our convention this year aimed to Inspire Better Buildings, and this is exactly what our leading building professionals and projects are achieving. Like us, they constantly work towards designing, building and operating better, greener buildings that tread lightly on our stressed planet. These winners are at the forefront of making a difference in the built environment. They are leading by example in the greening and sustainability space.”
As the sponsors of the Green Star SA Leadership Awards this year, Regional Manager for Old Mutual Property, Faieda Jacobs, says they are proud to be a part of the event.
“Old Mutual Property is committed to sustainable development, and the breadth and quality of entries submitted only serves to prove there are many corporates out there starting to come on board too. We see our participation in the awards as an important step in building a better future for South Africa,” she says.
Hotel Verde in Cape Town was officially named the winner in the Highest Rated building category for its Existing Building Performance (EBP) Pilot tool rating. Hotel Verde is owned by Mario Delicio, with Andre Harms from Ecolution as the project’s Accredited Professional (AP).
Wilkinson explains: “This award is given to the project that attains the highest points in the final rating for the 12 month period under consideration. Hotel Verde, with its 6-Star Green Star SA EBP rating, showcases some of the most advanced, environmentally conscious technological installations, construction methods, procurement and operational practices of any hotel in the country.”
Runner up in this category, Upper Grayston Building in Sandton Central, Johannesburg was recognised for its 6-Star Green Star SA Office v1 As Built rating. It is owned by Tower Property Fund and its Accredited Professionals were Annelidé Sherrat and Marloes Reinink of Solid Green.
The best quality submission award was won by Solid Green’s Dash Coville, for his work as the green building Accredited Professional on the Monte Circle Building A development. The development received a 4-Star Green Star SA Office v1 Design rating and achieved a score of 98% of points targeted. Monte Circle is owned by Abland.
The runner up in this category was Sally Misplon for her work as the green building Accredited Professional on the Gatehouse Building at Black River Park in Observatory, Cape Town. The building received an EBP Green Star SA rating and is owned by Redefine Properties.
Acknowledging outstanding and ongoing contribution to green building in South Africa, Alison Groves of WSP was awarded the Established Green Star. Jaco Kemp of Arup was named the runner up in this category.
“We consider it very important to recognise those who have continually contributed to the green building economy and, in particular, through Green Star SA buildings,” says Wilkinson.
Mauritz Kruger of RHDVH was named this year’s Rising Green Star and Nick Gorrie of Agama was the category’s runner up.
“The future is indeed bright with professionals like these working together for a better built environment.” Wilkinson says.
In 2009 the country’s first green certification was awarded by the GBCSA. In April 2014 the country celebrated 50 Green Star SA ratings; and, to date, the number of Green Star SA ratings has nearly tripled to 140 certified projects.
Wilkinson concludes: “The significant growth in green building is thanks, in part, to the support of our sponsors. Having achieved 100 certifications in April this year, we have been overwhelmed by the commercial property sector’s commitment to sustainability and resource efficiency.”
Hotel Verde, has just been awarded a second Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED®) Platinum Green Building Certification by the United States Green Building Council (USGBC) making Hotel Verde the first hotel globally, to achieve a double Platinum certification for LEED®.
The first Platinum certification was awarded in May 2014 for New Construction in the Green Building Design & Construction category. This established Hotel Verde as one of only six hotels in the world and the only hotel in Africa, to receive this accolade, at the time. The second and most recent certification was awarded for the Existing Building Operations & Maintenance of the hotel, giving Hotel Verde their double Platinum status and proving that Hotel Verde is, in fact, Africa’s greenest hotel.
Sustainability consultants for Hotel Verde on the LEED submission, André Harms of Ecolution Consulting and Jutta Berns-Mumbi of Ecocentric, targeted several strategies to obtain the second Platinum Certification in the category for Existing Buildings: Operations & Maintenance (v2009).
Hotel Verde’s ardent team have collectively gone above and beyond conventional industry practices by dedicating themselves to a sustainable work lifestyle. From stringent waste management and procurement policies to corporate responsibility campaigns, departmental sustainability, biodiversity maintenance and offering a carbon neutral hotel experience. Most importantly, it is the hotels aim to create an eco-friendly working environment in which staff health, happiness and productivity is optimized.
“I quickly realised that my dream to provide something luxurious and sustainable was not only possible, but it was also a business model worth sharing, with the potential to change lives and the industry as we know it,” says Mario Delicio, owner of both Hotel Verde, Cape Town Airport and Verde Hotels.
Launched during the World Travel Market Africa tourism trade show, Verde Hotels is leading hotel management solutions that are not just sustainable, but thrivable. Thrivability is the new frontier of sustainability. It encompasses all that is associated with sustainability but supersedes it by maximising the triple bottom line of people, profit and planet. It is on these principles that Verde Hotels bases its core foundation.
“We had the opportunity at Hotel Verde, Cape Town Airport, to look at everything from the ground up with regard to sustainability and efficiency with the commitment to operate sustainability. But The latest accolade showcases that Verde Hotels is ready to also optimise the operation and maintenance of existing buildings” said Harms, sustainability manager and founder of Ecolution Consulting, a trained mechanical engineer and the expertise behind some of the more technical aspects of Hotel Verde.
“As a hotel management company, this certification has been fundamental in allowing us to provide our potential clients with the assurance that we deliver truly sustainable and commercially viable hospitality solutions,” says Delicio, “Managing a thrivable hotel means a higher return on investment, lower operational costs, better environmental quality, a lower carbon footprint and a higher PR and marketing value, all whilst safeguarding natural resources and uplifting local communities.”
“On behalf of the Western Cape Government and 110% Green, I would like to congratulate Hotel Verde on achieving double platinum LEED and receiving the first ever 6 Star rating from the Green Building Council of South Africa (GBCSA). I am delighted to know that under our 110% Green Campaign, companies such as Hotel Verde have not only committed to doing business which contribute to economic growth, and continue to lead in innovation in the green economy. I have no doubt that these ground-breaking achievements will lead to many more while inspiring many other businesses to follow suit and adopt these best practices ” stated Helen Zille, Premier of the Western Cape, South Africa.
There are not a lot of hotels near Cape Town International Airport. Most business and leisure travellers are in a hurry to get to Cape Town, or reluctant to leave, and understandably so, given the city’s many attractions.
That’s why the 145-room Hotel Verde, located about a three-minute drive to Cape Town International Airport, feels like such a game changer. I stayed there my last night of a recent trip to Cape Town and it felt like a glimpse into the future of the hotel industry.
Hotel Verde claims to be Africa’s greenest hotel, built from the ground up according to eco-friendly principles. Staying there, you are practicing conscious, sustainable tourism. It’s the first hotel in Africa to offer a carbon-neutral stay, meaning you know exactly how much or how little your stay impacted the environment, and that makes it an amazingly feel-good experience.
Being accountable for its footprint is the guiding principle behind this hotel, which opened in August, 2013. South Africa’s green building certification wasn’t sophisticated enough for Hotel Verde, said General Manager Samantha Annandale, so they applied for — and got – LEED certification by the U.S. Green Building Council.
Annandale reckons the hotel got about 30 million rand (2.57 million USD) in free publicity just for being green.
Pulling up to the hotel, I knew it was going to be unlike anything I’d ever experienced when I saw the massive wind turbines spinning in the parking lot. But as big as they appear to be, they aren’t big enough, Annandale said. Though these are the most visible signs of green technology at the hotel, the wind turbines turned out to be probably its least productive investment.
“Return on investment (of wind turbines) is 20 years,” Annandale said. “We’d need to build (the wind turbines) bigger to make it worth it. We’ve learned from our mistakes. But they make a huge statement.”
Annandale spent a lot more time talking to me about the hotel’s eco pool, which uses plants and natural soil filtration to balance bacteria without chlorine. Water is clean and clear, but nothing like the hotel swimming pool international guests are used to, and some find it a bit weird, Annandale said.
Getting used to it requires a new mindset. “We cannot build hotels the way we used to build them,” she said.
Hotel Verde owners Mario and Annemarie Delicio have a 10-year lease on the wetland adjacent to the hotel where they built the eco pool. They took what amounted to a rat-infested swamp and turned it into an outdoor gym, with plants that attract birds and bees, owl houses and beehives that the hotel harvests. Kids staying at the hotel can go on a treasure hunt there.
Born in Italy and raised in Germany, Mario is a longtime South African resident and the shareholder in another hotel in Ethiopia.
One of Mario’s goals at Hotel Verde was to have zero waste to landfill. “We wanted to revolutionize that,” Annandale said. So far, the hotel manages to divert an 91-to-94 percent of waste from the landfill and they do that by recycling. The hotel has a composting room. Packaging is returned to suppliers. “One thing you can never control is what guests bring in,” Annandale said.
About 30 percent of the hotel staff’s time is spent educating school children, guests, tours and site inspectors.
Hotel Verde construction cost about 240 million rand ($20.5 million) and building it green cost about 20 million rand ($1.7 million) more than an ordinary hotel would have cost, Annandale estimates. It will take three to five years to see a return on the investment, she said.
Annandale is particularly proud of the room where gray water from guest showers is recycled. It’s fed into tanks, filtered by ultraviolet light, and then piped back up into the building to flush guest toilets.
The hotel also has a 40,000-liter rainwater harvesting tank for car washing, irrigation and cleaning.
To save energy on water heating, a geothermal loop system 90 feet beneath the surface of the hotel taps into the natural water in the earth, acting as a heat sink for the hotel water.
Engineers from the University of Cape Town visit the hotel, which serves as a model for the Stellenbosch municipality.
Art designed by local school children and South African artists is used to decorate the hotel. School children in the nearby townships don’t get art education, according to Annandale. Mario agreed to fund an art education project on condition the children learn about sustainability. In return, they created the designs for stunning tapestries that decorate the common areas on the floor I my room was on.
Using Recycled Products
One wall in the lobby was textured with recycled glass. The hotel’s carpet runners are made of recycled plastic. On the outside of the hotel, a five-story mosaic art installation was designed by Svenja, Mario’s youngest daughter.
There is free unlimited Wi-Fi and sensor lighting throughout Hotel Verde, and my room was paperless, in that all hotel information was on the TV.
One of my favorite places in the hotel was in the basement garage, where graffiti artists had been invited to come in and paint. This turned out to be a moneymaker for the hotel. Guests loved the basement art and some have paid to have banquets there, Annandale said.
But you probably want to hear about the rooms. I loved that the butter cookies I found on the coffee tray in my room were made by a local woman in Mitchell’s Plain, one of South Africa’s largest townships.
“We helped her become compliant in food preparation and now she employs two people,” Annandale said.
When you check out of Hotel Verde, you have the option to offset your carbon footprint and you can track where and how it was offset. Just knowing that made me feel good.
Responsible tourism is about growing a booming industry and at the same time applying the “handbrake” so that it will remain sustainable, says Jan Hutton of Deloitte South Africa.
Speaking at the Responsible Tourism conference hosted by the City of Cape Town last week, she cautioned: “The travel industry is under attack; for everything from its carbon footprint to its social costs. How do we align our desire to travel in a more thoughtful way with our conscience? We are all aware that tourism has an impact. It can be positive because tourism has benefits of job creation and preserving heritage, but it also has a negative impact on carbon emissions and the trading of wildlife.”
Councillor Roxanne Hoorn, chairwoman of the city’s tourism, events and economic development portfolio committee, agreed.
“Tourism today is facing a period of growth, but with this exciting development comes some challenges. The reality is that the fast-paced expansion of tourism in Cape Town, as well as South Africa as a whole, has often ignored the social, economic and environmental impact on our city and our people.
The city, with VoiceMap and Cape Town Green Map, launched Africa’s first Responsible Green VoiceMap at the conference.
Green Point Urban Park will be the inaugural route, and people will be able to use their smartphones to connect to a “guide” that will explain how a dysfunctional space has become one of the most popular parks in the city.
These voice tours will soon include other attractions such as Khayelitsha Mall, Muizenberg to Kalk Bay and Cape Point.
Garreth Bloor, mayoral committee member for Tourism, Events and Economic Development, said a Slave Route walk was also on the cards.
The app can be downloaded on an iPhone from the App Store, by searching for VoiceMap or by visiting bit.ly/voicemap on the iPhone. An Android version will be available soon.
Hutton said South Africa was already recognised as a world leader in responsible tourism. And next year, Cape Town will host the International Responsible Tourism Conference with the World Travel Market Africa.
Global travel was changing, with greater emphasis being placed on the “how” and the “why”, rather than the “where”. Travellers no longer wanted to tick items of a travel to-do list. Instead they yearned for “authenticity” and to “get under the skin” of their destinations, she said.
“Responsible tourism is about (creating) better places for people to live in, and better places for people to visit.”
Future travel scenarios included carbon caps for all airlines, with a return to “slow travel” via bike, boat or train.
Samantha Annandale, the general manager of Hotel Verde, said responsible tourism had to move beyond sustainability to “thrivability”. Hotel Verde, “Africa’s greenest hotel” recently scooped the World Responsible Tourism award.
Annandale said: “We’ve decided to show that the rewards outweigh the costs. It’s about doing the right thing. We worked on a concept of ‘thrivability’ as the next logical step of sustainability.
“It’s about actually succeeding – that being sustainable naturally will enable (one to thrive).”
The hotel, located 400m from Cape Town International Airport, has won numerous awards since it opened last year. It lists photovoltaic panels, energy-efficient lighting, natural ventilation, power-generating gym equipment and an eco-pool among its “green” interventions.
South African tourism shone under the global spotlight during the World Responsible Tourism Awards held in London on Wednesday.
Hotel Verde in Cape Town won Gold in the Best City Hotel for Responsible Tourism category, the V&A Waterfront walked away with Gold for Best Destination for Responsible Tourism and South African Animal Sanctuary Alliance received Gold for being the Best Global Animal Welfare Initiative. Mdumbi Backpackers was a finalist in the Best for Poverty Reduction category.
Every year there is also a winner of winners – a Gold winner amongst the Gold winners. The South African Animal Sanctuary Alliance won this Overall Winner category award
Now in their 11th year, the awards aim to develop quality tourism products that promote cultural integrity and environmental protection.
“These awards are significant for the entire Tourism industry in South Africa. It shows that South Africa is taking its place as a world leader in responsible tourism,” said Tourism Minister Derek Hanekom.
“Many travellers are now making decisions based on fair trade, community benefits and sustainable development practices. In response to this, more of our destinations are implementing sustainable principles like recycling greywater and reducing energy use. These establishments are an inspiration to others to follow suit.”
The need for tourism businesses to look after the environmental, economic and social elements of their enterprise is a key pillar in the recently revised Tourism Act of 2014.
South Africa has become the second country in the world, after Brazil, to develop National Minimum Standards for Responsible Tourism.
“I believe we can do more to educate and activate travel consumers to support responsible tourism. This will accelerate the implementation of responsible tourism principles by destination operators even further,” Hanekom said, adding that they will be looking at ways to incentivise the retrofitting of tourism attractions and accommodation facilities to make them for energy saving, water efficiency and accessibility for travellers with physical limitations.